ORANGE COUNTY – The man charged with causing a multi-car wreck on I-40 in 2011 that left three people dead pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a maximum prison term of eleven years.
Ronald Eugene Graybeal, of Newport, Tenn., was also charged with one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of simple possession of marijuana, according to Jeff Nieman, Orange County Assistant District Attorney.
“Representatives from each family did address the court and told the judge about the loved ones that they had lost and the impact it had on their lives and their families’ lives,” Nieman said.
On June 30, 2011, Graybeal crashed his tractor trailer into four vehicles before finally coming to a stop on I-40 near 15/501. John Llanio of Kanapolis, Barbara Caldwell of Mebane, and Gary Smith of Burlington all died in the crash. A fourth person was injured as a result of the wreck.
The collision was so severe that authorities could not immediately identify the make and model of the car Smith was driving.
“A case of this complexity often does take a long time between the date of the offense and when we can resolve it,” Nieman said. “This case was definitely one of those.”
Graybeal received three sentences with a maximum of 44 months for the involuntary manslaughter counts; four months for the possession of drug paraphernalia; and 90 days for simple possession of marijuana.
He was originally charged with three counts of second degree murder. That charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. In cases of vehicular homicide, malice can be hard to prove in court.